Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, may I as a matter of privilege, but not referring to a report in Hansard, refer to the Montreal Gazette of this morning and ask that there be a correction made in the dispatch entitled:
Sellar urges radical changes in presentation of estimates.
Auditor General critical of officials by-passing spending authority; suggests free food sent overseas needed by workless of Canada.
In the course of the report it is stated that three important briefs were presented by Mr. Sellar to a house committee and then the report continues:
In one of the briefs, Mr. Sellar criticized the principle of gifts of food by the farm prices support and like bodies to organizations in Europe and Palestine which were caring for refugees, especially the undernourished children. Mr. Sellar said that it was surplus food supplies that were given to Europe but he thought that such surpluses should be distributed in Canada if and where real need existed.
I am sure that any member of parliament who read that would be surprised that a public official would be expressing opinions on policy before a parliamentary committee. I immediately got the briefs in question. Although I do not wish to be critical of the gentleman who attempted to summarize them, because they were quite long-as they had to be, because it was necessary for the Auditor General to make reference to the authorities upon which his objective statements were based-I would suggest to him that he read the briefs again. I am sure he will not be able to find, any more than I was able to find, anything that would give the slightest colour to that kind of paragraph.
Civil servants are often taxed with being bureaucrats, but they are in a position where they cannot speak for themselves here, and I suggest that the gentleman who wrote that dispatch when he reads this will in fairness to Mr. Sellar wish to correct the false impression to be derived from the paragraph I have just quoted. I am sure he will do that after he has had time to peruse carefully the briefs he was attempting to summarize.
Subtopic: STATEMENT OF AUDITOR GENERAL BEFORE SENATE
Sub-subtopic: REFERENCE TO REPORT IN MONTREAL "GAZETTE"